I think this has been on many people’s minds lately. We’re amid The Great Resignation, so I imagine if you’re reading this, you’ve considered leaving your current job sometime in the last two years. People are fed up with being micromanaged, under-appreciated, underpaid, and overworked. For me, it was all of the above, plus some. I’ve worked a good amount of different jobs, and they’ve all been totally different experiences, yet most shared one trait: management. I don’t know about you, but I personally do not like being managed. I understand that there is some necessity for management – the factory must keep going. But I also believe that the majority of working-class people can and will rise above expectations when given the trust, freedom, and choice to do so. You don’t inspire that from managing, you get it from leading. On the other hand, even in the few jobs I had that I didn’t feel managed, I still felt overshadowed. There was a limit on what I could do, I had to get approval for things, I felt that I had to stay within my lane. And that’s fine! That’s working order. But for me, personally, I learned that I much prefer being the leader, being the one that calls the shots. I wouldn’t want to lead a corporation or a sports team; that seems stressful and chaotic. But I do want to lead my own path, create my own lane and pass when I want to, work on my terms. That’s a scary thing to want! What happens if I mess up? I’m the only one to blame, I’m the captain of my ship, I’m the one making decisions. It was the path I wanted to take though. I knew that it was the only way I would be content with my career, and it was worth the risk.
Yesterday, I picked my five-year-old up from school. I asked him how his day was and he replied, “Gooood.” So cute. I don’t think he has ever said he’s had a bad day. Wasn’t it nice to be a kid? Anyway, he paused for a minute and then asked, “Mommy, did you have a bad day”. I was caught off guard because he rarely asks about my day and I was in a great mood. I said, “No, my day has been great,” and asked what prompted that question. He said, “Well you had to work, so you had a bad day”.
I want that to sink in for a moment. My five-year-old is already equating a working day to a bad day. Why? Did I influence that or was it a different environment, like school? Of course, I was (and still am) a little concerned about that ideation. In a way, it’s good. It tells me that he understands people can end up in jobs that don’t elevate their happiness or wellbeing, that jobs have the power to even suppress happiness. But, it’s also a sign that I am on the right track, not only for my own happiness but for my son’s.
My childhood was heavily layered by expectations for good grades, college, and a stable, well-paying career. That’s no one’s fault. My mom had to raise two kids by herself after my dad passed away, so thank goodness she had a stable, well-paying career. We would’ve been in a pretty rough position if she hadn’t been able to support her family by herself. So, I followed her lead: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. I tried college, didn’t like it. I went to cosmetology school, liked it but didn’t care about it. I was a bartender, good money but a rough lifestyle. Then I became pregnant and everything changed. It was no longer just about me, and there was a good chance I would end up being the sole supporter of my family, just like my mom. I went to nursing school. I was 8 months pregnant when I took my first set of final exams during prerequisites. I aced them all. I pumped in the bathroom every weekday during a summer class, missing forty-five minutes of class time. I ended the class with an A. I was accepted to nursing school, was granted a prestigious scholarship, and started with an eight-month-old baby at home. I graduated and started working in a level one trauma center (ER) and immediately hated it. We can get into why I hated it in a later post, the point is, I was miserable. I was making a stable income, had decent benefits, and was able to care for my family. I also saved some lives, like, literally. So it was cool, but not cool enough to be sustainable. In a nutshell, I was exhausted, mentally, physically, all the -allies.
I got out of nursing in April of 2021. I knew I couldn’t maintain that kind of work and keep myself happy. So, I shifted from working for money to working for happiness. Nursing had served its purpose: it got Truett and me through the first few years of his life. It was time to move on. But how? A job that brings you happiness doesn’t just appear (unless you’re very, very lucky or you ignore the obvious like I did). I decided to use my good ole’ cosmetology license as my escape route and started doing lash extensions. This was one of the jobs that I didn’t feel managed, but I still felt like I wasn’t living up to my full potential. I left that and started working for Garrott, my fiancé, and his team. We both saw a need and recognized I could fill it. But, it takes a really special kind of couple to work full-time together, especially when other team members are involved. I got them into a better position with their online presence and moved on to getting my real estate license and architectural drafting certification, while also keeping Truett home for the summer and planning a wedding. Yikes. I probably don’t need to tell you that all of that failed miserably. So, it all came to a head. I was exhausted, stressed, felt under-appreciated, and had no idea what I really wanted from life. It was a difficult season. We postponed the wedding, I started looking for permanent jobs (instead of a pipe dream) that I would at least kind of enjoy, and Truett went back to school.
There was an offer for an interview at a homebuilding company in Lubbock. I took it and convinced myself that I would love to work for this company as a salesperson. It ended up being a two-month-long interview process, so I took another job selling mattresses until I got another offer. Four interviews and a disorganized mattress store later, I decided I needed a plan B. So, I started hustling a little harder with photography. I needed to stay afloat somehow during this weird limbo phase. In that process, my fire was reignited. I realized that, after all this chasing, contemplating, and hoping, I was completely ignoring the obvious path. I had talked myself out of doing something I love because it wasn’t what was “expected” of me. It wasn’t a stable career with health benefits and a 401K. It was competitive and scary, unpredictable, intimidating, and the one thing that has been consistently in my life for the past twenty years. I was napping one day and had a very vivid dream. I was at a wedding and a wedding planner approached me and said, “If you’re considering other options, stop. This is where you belong”. Whoa, ok, universe. GOT IT. Time after time, I somehow always ended up behind a camera. It was obvious to everyone but me… until I had that dream.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’ve gotten carried away. I stayed up last night thinking about all of this and it’s been heavy on my heart to write it down and get it out there.
My response to my son yesterday was this:
I love my job. I enjoy the work that I do. I used to have a lot of bad days because of the job I had, but now I have so many good days and even some great days. Life is too short to work a job only because it pays well. If you have the strategy, passion, and resources to do what you love and make money at it, do that. You don’t get a do-over in this life, so do your best to get it right. If you want to do something no one else thinks you can do, you can do it, and I will always support you. If you are afraid of doing something, be brave and try it. It might make you really happy.
If you have an idea, put it out there! It may not catch at first, but keep pushing. If you have a passion, get really good at whatever that is and then turn it into your career. If you have a goal, come up with a strategy, muster up some faith, and GO! If you can’t stand your job but see no way out, start journaling, start reading, start anything to get your wheels turning again.
Okay, I think that wraps it up. Thank you for staying this long and reading my rant. I’m passionate about creating a life for myself and my son that is full of happiness. Money can be a nice byproduct. Obviously, I want to pay my bills on time and have food on the table, but ultimately, I think if you’re passionate about what you do, the money will come.
Jan 12, 2022